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Burke invited to U-20 national team rugby camp

Fallbrook High School sophomore Tara Burke will be spending February 28 and March 1 at the Olympic Training Center in Clermont, FL, where she will be participating in USA Rugby’s Under-20 Elite Camp.

Burke was one of 50 high school and college players invited to the U-20 Elite Camp.

Some of those players will be selected to participate in the U-20 Nations Cup in England July 6-19, while others may remain on an under-17 or under-18 developmental squad.

A player may compete in a higher age group than their actual eligibility but not in a lower one.

Bryn Chivers, the head coach of the under-20 women’s national team, will oversee all 50 prospects.

“She’s being looked at by the main coach,” said Fallbrook Youth Rugby coach Marin Pinnell. “She could make the U-17, the U-18.”

Burke is 16 years old. She was born in Fallbrook Hospital and attended St. Stephen Elementary School, Live Oak Elementary School and Potter Junior High School before beginning her Fallbrook High School career in 2007.

Burke, who had played Boys & Girls Club sports and had earned Don Dornon Games decorations while in elementary school, was on the junior varsity volleyball team as a high school freshman.

She made the varsity basketball team as a freshman, and after the basketball season was over she joined the rugby team in mid-season.

Burke, who plays center/wing, was the most valuable player for the rugby club’s 2008 under-19 girls team.

Burke remains on the basketball team, where she plays point guard, but did not play a fall sport in 2008.

In September 2008 she tried out for rugby’s Southern California U-19 Griffins all-star team and was selected.

After practicing during September and October, the Griffins – whose squad included six other Fallbrook High School girls – traveled to Fort Lauderdale, FL, for a “tryout” November 21-22.

The Griffins faced the USA Rugby under-17 national team and also faced an all-star team from the South.

Chivers watched the tryouts, and the games were also videotaped for further review.

“From those two games he liked what he saw in Tara,” Pinnell said.

Burke was notified of her invitation to the U-20 Elite Camp in late December.

“She’s got a lot of talent,” Pinnell said. “She’s quite fast and she can step around.”

In addition to her athletic activity, Burke also rides dirt bikes recreationally, and she is involved with the youth group at Christ The King Lutheran Church.

Burke is the youngest of five siblings, all of whom played sports at Fallbrook High School.

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